Confirmation unsure for Biden health secretary nominee Xavier Becerra

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee deadlocked on Wednesday over President Joe Biden's pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, raising questions about Democrats' ability to overcome Republican opposition to the California attorney general. Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the White House remained confident about Becerra's ultimate confirmation. "We certainly understood from the beginning that every nominee would not receive 93 votes, but we ...

Reuters | Updated: 04-03-2021 07:25 IST | Created: 04-03-2021 07:25 IST
Confirmation unsure for Biden health secretary nominee Xavier Becerra

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee deadlocked on Wednesday over President Joe Biden's pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, raising questions about Democrats' ability to overcome Republican opposition to the California attorney general. The 14-14 party-line vote sent Becerra's nomination to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for further action. Under new rules to deal with the 50-50 Senate split between the two parties, either can file a motion to bypass a tied committee and bring matters straight to the Senate floor with a separate procedural vote.

Becerra's fate will depend on Senate Democrats' ability to stick together and support him, possibly with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris. The defection of one moderate Democrat, Joe Manchin, derailed the nomination of Biden's pick as budget director, Neera Tanden, especially given the lack of Republican support, but administration officials suggested that was an isolated case given lawmakers' frustration over Tanden's past tweets.

A spokesman for Manchin could not immediately be reached for comment on Becerra's nomination. Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the White House remained confident about Becerra's ultimate confirmation.

"We certainly understood from the beginning that every nominee would not receive 93 votes, but we ... remain confident and confidently behind the nomination," she told reporters. The Finance Committee in the same session on Wednesday approved two other Biden nominees - Katherine Tai for U.S. Trade Representative and Wally Adeyemo for deputy Treasury secretary - by voice votes, indicating no significant opposition.

Two Finance Committee Republicans, Bill Cassidy and Mike Crapo, said on Wednesday they had opposed Becerra because of his lack of past healthcare experience and challenges as California attorney general to HHS authorities to grant religious conscience waivers to Obamacare mandates that coverage be provided for contraception. "His qualifications to be HHS secretary seem to be minimal beyond suing HHS," said Cassidy, who is a physician.

Psaki noted, however, that Cassidy also told Becerra "he'd bet he has the votes" to be confirmed. Both Crapo and Cassidy said they would work with Becerra to lower healthcare costs if he won confirmation.

OBAMACARE SUPPORTER In choosing Becerra, 63, a Democratic former congressman, Biden picked an administrator with a long record of supporting the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement.

Biden has said he wants to improve the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare, which relies on private insurers, rather than launch a government-provided healthcare program. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was sworn in on Wednesday after her confirmation on Tuesday. The Senate also confirmed White House Council of Economic Advisers Chair Cecilia Rouse, bringing the number of Cabinet-level officials confirmed to 12 of 24.

Psaki said Biden remained determined to find a place for Tanden in his administration, but gave no details. She said a replacement nominee for the top spot at the Office of Management and Budget was unlikely to be named this week. The White House on Tuesday withdrew Tanden's nomination at her request after efforts to find support from a moderate Republican to replace Manchin's vote floundered.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Tracking Fintech during COVID-19: Harnessing power of technology

Its abundantly clear now that as fintech cements its place in the financial sector, accelerated further by the COVID-19 pandemic, it could open the sector to new possibilities by harnessing the power of technology to deliver financial ...

Tectonic turns: How technology shaped healthcare over the decades

Tracing an episodic evolution, with technology at the interface of human and his health....

World Water Day sees crises of inequality in countries both rich and poor

... ...

Privacy and data protection: Reviewing notable policy frameworks

The evolved privacy principles and the resulting legislation across the world primarily aim to force the data collector to define the purpose for which the data is being collected along with the need to obtain explicit consent for the said ...

Videos

Latest News

Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general and human rights activist, dead at 93

By Grant McCool NEW YORK, April 10 - Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who helped shape U.S. civil rights law during the Johnson administration but went on to travel the globe to fight human rights abuses by his own country as he s...

Chad's veteran leader Deby targets sixth term in presidential vote

Voters in Chad head to the polls on Sunday for a presidential election in which Idriss Deby is widely expected to extend his three-decade rule despite growing signs of popular discontent and opposition criticism over his handling of oil wea...

Benin votes for president after week of violent protests

Benin votes on Sunday in a presidential election following a week of deadly protests against the incumbent Patrice Talon, who is heavily favoured to win a second term.Talon, a multi-millionaire cotton magnate who touts strong economic growt...

Mexico reports 2,192 new coronavirus deaths after data review

Mexicos government on Saturday reported 2,192 new confirmed coronavirus deaths, one of its biggest one-day tolls during the pandemic, after consolidating data from last year to include deaths that were not confirmed at the time.The figure w...

Give Feedback